Contributing Writer: Lauren Dykovitz
After my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s seven years ago, I had a very difficult time accepting the changes I saw in her.
My mom was only 62 years old at the time and I thought that she was young enough that she should still be able to do all of her normal daily activities. It was hard for me to have patience with her and to make accommodations for things she could no longer do.
I would think to myself, “Why is she acting so old? She’s only 62. She should be able to do this.” Admittedly, I found myself snapping at her a lot and always feeling disappointed in myself later.
Over time, I realized that I had it all wrong.
“My mom wasn’t acting this way by choice.”
She hadn’t given up on doing things because she thought she was old.
She was acting this way because she had Alzheimer’s disease. Duh!
Of course she would no longer be able to do many of the daily activities she had done before! What did I expect? How could I treat her like nothing had changed when everything had changed? What was I thinking?
I realized that I was expecting too much from my mom. I was expecting her to be able to do things that her Alzheimer’s would no longer allow her to do.
It was important to me to still treat my mom like the person she was before Alzheimer’s, but I realized that I also needed to make accommodations for the person she was after Alzheimer’s. I needed to lower my expectations of her and of our time together.
Maybe if I didn’t expect so much from her, then I wouldn’t constantly be snapping at her and feeling disappointed when I got home. I wanted so badly for things to be normal.
I wanted to have a normal relationship with my mom. But, what I had failed to realize was that we had a new normal now. There was no going back to the way things used to be.
“The sooner I started embracing,
our new normal, the better.”
Once I learned this lesson, it really took the pressure off of my mom and my role as a caregiver. As much as I wanted her to be the same person, I had to accept that she was different in some ways.
I had to meet her where she was at, even if that changed from day to day. It is still possible for me to help my mom maintain some sense of the person she was before Alzheimer’s.
For example, she always loved having her hair done at the salon. Well, she still does, but now the salon comes to us.
It’s all about embracing your new normal.
You have to learn to make adjustments for your loved one along the way. Constantly reevaluate your loved one and ask yourself if you’re expecting too much. I’ll admit it’s almost never easy, but it is always worth it.
About the Author: Lauren Dykovitz is a part-time caregiver for her mom, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010.
Lauren writes about her experiences on her blog, “Life, Love, and Alzheimer’s.” She has also been a contributing writer for several other Alzheimer’s blogs and websites.
Lauren recently self-published her first book, “Learning to Weather the Storm: A Story of Life, Love, and Alzheimer’s.” It is available for purchase online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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